Coaches play a central role in sustaining professional development at the school level by helping teachers become reflective about teaching and co-facilitating school-based meetings. Video is used to support coaching practices so teachers can observe and reflect on their own teaching. Online supports for teachers include extended access to training videos and teaching resources.
Research lessons are one of the main mechanisms through which guided classroom implementation occurs. These are planned activities for children that teach specific math ideas at each grade level and coordinate with existing curricula. Under number and operations, for example, teachers implement a research lesson based on The Gingerbread Man that illustrates to students how numbers and symbols can describe how the amount in a collection changes as members are added and taken away. Introduced at the learning labs, research lessons provide a common teaching experience for all teachers and are analyzed at grade-level meetings and at coaching sessions. By making the classroom itself a learning site, we activate a powerful mechanism for changing teaching practice.
THE COACHING CYCLE
The coaching cycle is a a 3-step process consisting of a planning conversation, classroom observation, and a reflecting conversation that offers teachers individualized support as they implement mathematical concepts and skills acquired during in-person learning labs. Documentation of classroom practices is emphasized by creating video of teaching and completing observation records. These pieces of data are used both to support teacher reflection during the coaching cycle and when possible to contribute to our assessment of teacher change as a program evaluation measure.
Grade-level meetings are an integral part of many interventions. The purpose of the coach-initiated grade-level meeting is to help the team of teachers to identify trends that exist in their grade and to create a plan of action regarding outcomes that students need to reach. It can also be a useful opportunity to spur a school-based community of practice among colleagues.
Individualized in-person math coaching sessions may be gradually replaced by video-based observation and/or group study within grade-level meetings so that teachers learn to provide feedback on each others’ teaching and eventually take on these responsibilities themselves.